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Oscar Wilde Quotes

34 of the best book quotes from Oscar Wilde
  1. #1
    “Life has everything in store for you, Dorian. There is nothing that you, with your extraordinary good looks, will not be able to do.”
  2. #2
    “We live in an age that reads too much to be wise, and that thinks too much to be beautiful.”
  3. #3
    “People say sometimes that beauty is only superficial. That may be so, but at least it is not so superficial as thought is. To me, beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.”
  4. #4
    “Modern morality consists in accepting the standard of one’s age. I consider that for any man of culture to accept the standard of his age is a form of the grossest immorality.”
  5. #5
    “I know, now, that when one loses one’s good looks, whatever they may be, one loses everything. Your picture has taught me that. Lord Henry Wotton is perfectly right. Youth is the only thing worth having. When I find that I am growing old, I shall kill myself.”
  6. #6
    “The reason I will not exhibit this picture is that I am afraid that I have shown in it the secret of my own soul.”
  7. #7
    “For the canons of good society are, or should be, the same as the canons of art. Form is absolutely essential to it. It should have the dignity of a ceremony, as well as its unreality, and should combine the insincere character of a romantic play with the wit and beauty that make such plays delightful to us. Is insincerity such a terrible thing? I think not. It is merely a method by which we can multiply our personalities.”
  8. #8
    “He was prisoned in thought. Memory, like a horrible malady, was eating his soul away.”
  9. #9
    “The past could always be annihilated. Regret, denial, or forgetfulness could do that. But the future was inevitable. There were passions in him that would find their terrible outlet, dreams that would make the shadow of their evil real.”
  10. #10
    “Yes, we are overcharged for everything nowadays. I should fancy that the real tragedy of the poor is that they can afford nothing but self-denial. Beautiful sins, like beautiful things, are the privilege of the rich.”
  11. #11
    “Pleasure is Nature’s test, her sign of approval. When we are happy, we are always good, but when we are good, we are not always happy.”
  12. #12
    “How much that strange confession explained to him! The painter’s absurd fits of jealousy, his wild devotion, his extravagant panegyrics, his curious reticences -- he understood them all now, and he felt sorry. There seemed to him to be something tragic in a friendship so coloured by romance.”
  13. #13
    “I make a great difference between people. I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their good intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies. I have not got one who is a fool. They are all men of some intellectual power, and consequently they all appreciate me. Is that very vain of me? I think it is rather vain.”
  14. #14
    “I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream -- I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal -- to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be.”
  15. #15
    “I like persons better than principles, and I like persons with no principles better than anything else in the world.”
  16. #16
    “Sibyl? Oh, she was so shy and so gentle. There is something of a child about her. Her eyes opened wide in exquisite wonder when I told her what I thought of her performance, and she seemed quite unconscious of her power.”
  17. #17
    “If I had read all this in a book, Harry, I think I would have wept over it. Somehow, now that it has happened actually, and to me, it seems far too wonderful for tears.”
  18. #18
    “I am jealous of everything whose beauty does not die. I am jealous of the portrait you have painted of me. Why should it keep what I must lose? Every moment that passes takes something from me and gives something to it. Oh, if it were only the other way! If the picture could change, and I could be always what I am now! Why did you paint it? It will mock me some day -- mock me horribly!”
  19. #19
    “And beauty is a form of genius -- is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts of the world, like sunlight, or spring-time, or the reflection in dark waters of that silver shell we call the moon. It cannot be questioned. It has its divine right of sovereignty. It makes princes of those who have it. You smile? Ah! when you have lost it you won’t smile...”
  20. #20
    “Yes, he was certainly wonderfully handsome, with his finely curved scarlet lips, his frank blue eyes, his crisp gold hair. There was something in his face that made one trust him at once. All the candour of youth was there, as well as all youth’s passionate purity. One felt that he had kept himself unspotted from the world. No wonder Basil Hallward worshipped him.”
  21. #21
    “You are a wonderful creation. You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know.”
  22. #22
    “It was his beauty that had ruined him, his beauty and the youth that he had prayed for. But for those two things, his life might have been free from stain. His beauty had been to him but a mask, his youth but a mockery. What was youth at best? A green, an unripe time, a time of shallow moods, and sickly thoughts. Why had he worn its livery? Youth had spoiled him.”
  23. #23
    “An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography. We have lost the abstract sense of beauty.”
  24. #24
    “You know we poor artists have to show ourselves in society from time to time, just to remind the public that we are not savages. With an evening coat and a white tie, as you told me once, anybody, even a stock-broker, can gain a reputation for being civilized.”
  25. #25
    “I love Sibyl Vane. I want to place her on a pedestal of gold and to see the world worship the woman who is mine. What is marriage? An irrevocable vow. You mock at it for that. Ah! don’t mock. It is an irrevocable vow that I want to take. Her trust makes me faithful, her belief makes me good. When I am with her, I regret all that you have taught me. I become different from what you have known me to be. I am changed, and the mere touch of Sibyl Vane’s hand makes me forget you and all your wrong, fascinating, poisonous, delightful theories.”
  26. #26
    “One should absorb the colour of life, but one should never remember its details. Details are always vulgar.”
  27. #27
    “The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
  28. #28
    “Dorian Gray had been poisoned by a book. There were moments when he looked on evil simply as a mode through which he could realize his conception of the beautiful.”
  29. #29
    “To be good is to be in harmony with one’s self.”
  30. #30
    “Ah! realize your youth while you have it. Don’t squander the gold of your days, listening to the tedious, trying to improve the hopeless failure, or giving away your life to the ignorant, the common, and the vulgar. These are the sickly aims, the false ideals, of our age. Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you! Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing. . . . A new Hedonism -- that is what our century wants. You might be its visible symbol.”
  31. #31
    “Lord Henry went out to the garden and found Dorian Gray burying his face in the great cool lilac-blossoms, feverishly drinking in their perfume as if it had been wine. He came close to him and put his hand upon his shoulder. ‘You are quite right to do that,’ he murmured. ‘Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.‘”
  32. #32
    ″‘Each of us has heaven and hell in him, Basil,’ cried Dorian with a wild gesture of despair.”
  33. #33
    “Then the curtain rises, and you will see the girl to whom I am going to give all my life, to whom I have given everything that is good in me.”
  34. #34
    “You know how a voice can stir one. Your voice and the voice of Sibyl Vane are two things that I shall never forget. When I close my eyes, I hear them, and each of them says something different. I don’t know which to follow.”
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